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“He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balances economy,” Mr. Clinton said in a speech that, in typical Clinton fashion, ran more than 20 minutes past his allotted time.

Mr. Clinton laid out math he said showed that over the last half-century, Democrats and Republicans have held the White House for about the same number of years, but Democrats lead in job-creation, 42 million to 24 million.

“It turns out that advancing economic opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics,” he said, drawing repeated shouts of “We love you Bill!” from delegates.

Mr. Clinton also looked past Mr. Obama’s legislative agenda such as health care and the stimulus, which he passed almost exclusively on Democratic votes, and said the president is committed to cooperation. He pointed to Mr. Obama’s openness to working with former rivals, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“Heck, he even appointed Hillary,” Mr. Clinton said, pointing to his wife, who after losing to Mr. Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary accepted a role as his secretary of state.

Republicans said inviting Mr. Clinton to speak was a danger for Democrats, arguing he would hurt Mr. Obama by highlighting the differences between the two.

“My guess is, we’ll get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been in the last four years,” Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan said as he campaigned in Iowa.

For his part Mr. Romney, the GOP’s nominee, remained holed up in Vermont prepping for the series of October debates — the next major set pieces in the presidential campaign.

He and Mr. Obama are running about even in national polls, though the president is ahead in polling in nearly every battleground state.

At their convention, Democrats were poised to nominate Mr. Obama unanimously, but the platform flap underscored divisions within his party that have dampened the enthusiasm that powered him to victory in 2008.

Even some top lawmakers are wary of appearing near him.

On Wednesday, Democrats highlighted their 12 female U.S. senators — but only nine of them showed. Among the three absent lawmakers was Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat who is seeking re-election and is trying to distance herself from Mr. Obama after being a chief surrogate for him in 2008.

In a campaign marked by decidedly personal barbs, Democrats lobbed some stiff attacks at Mr. Romney, including highlighting employees who were laid off after Bain Capital — Mr. Romney’s former company — took over their plant.

Mitt Romney once said, ‘I like being able to fire people.’ Well I can tell you from personal experience, he does,” said Randy Johnson, one of three workers who said Bain Capital cost him his job.

He and the other workers said they understand businesses failing, but said they faulted Mr. Romney for earning profits while shutting plants down.